Focus on security of U.S. homeland beginning to take shape
The concentration on homeland security in the U.S. shows no signs of abating. In fact, the security climate now is significantly more in evidence than it was in the immediate aftermath of September 2001. Recent mid-term elections resulted in Republican control of both the House and Senate.
A bill creating a cabinet-level department headed by a Secretary approved by Congress was passed on November 19. A few days later – on November 25 – President Bush signed the bill into law and nominated Tom Ridge as the Department of Homeland Security’s first Secretary. Ridge, the former Governor of Pennsylvania, previously served as Homeland Security Advisor to the President in the “Office” of Homeland Security. The establishment of the department represents the largest government reorganization since the Department of Defense was created in 1947. Its budget is almost as large as the entire budget of the Government of Canada.
The homeland security department will have four divisions, each headed by an Under Secretary:
Border and transportation security
Emergency preparedness and response
Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear countermeasures
Information analysis and infrastructure protection
The Border and Transportation Security division – which will have the most apparent impact on cross-border trucking – will amalgamate the following functions under one umbrella:
Customs Service (from Treasury)
INS and Border Patrol (from Justice)
Transportation Security Administration (from Transportation)
Coast Guard (from Transportation)
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (from Agriculture)
Federal Protective Service (from General Services Administration)
According to the legislation creating the department:
The primary responsibilities of the Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security shall include:
(1) Preventing the entry of terrorists and the instruments of terrorism into the United States;
(2) Securing the borders, territorial waters, ports, terminals, waterways, and air, land, and sea transportation systems of the United States, including managing and coordinating governmental activities at ports of entry;
(3) Administering the immigration and naturalization laws of the United States, including the establishment of rules, in accordance with section 403, governing the granting of visas or other forms of permission, including parole, to enter the United States to individuals who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents thereof.
What does this mean for Canadian industry? What does it mean for Canadian motor carriers? Should we be worried? I think so.
The legislation that gives birth to the new Department of Homeland Security makes no mention, nor did the official supporting documentation, of the need for Canada-U.S. land border trade facilitation.
The President’s homeland security agenda can now proceed largely unhindered.
While progress has been made over the past year such as the 30-point Smart Border Accord and the subsequent work on the FAST program, we are now also beginning to see the introduction of new measures that could have a profound impact on anyone who crosses the Canada-U.S. border and what red tape they will have to endure.
USINS Commissioner Ziglar, whose department had been under fire since September 11, 2001, for issuing visa renewals to 11 terrorists killed carrying out attacks, retired on November 30.
At the time of writing, there was no word on his replacement, but it is widely expected that he/she will be from law enforcement.
The INS now sees its primary role as first line of defence against the entry of terrorists into the United States. This past fall saw the introduction of numerous measures such as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System which requires an interview under oath, fingerprinting and photographing for nationals of countries deemed to be “state sponsors of terrorism.”
It specifically requires the registration of persons with dual nationality, and although it appears not to apply to Canadian dual citizens, no specific exemption has been issued.
In addition, an interim final rule has been drafted and was to be introduced before the end of December, stipulating visa requirements for Canadian landed immigrants from specified Commonwealth countries.
It is unclear how the new entry/exit requirements will fit into the FAST driver identification card system.
It was our hope that the FAST card would be the one piece of documentation needed to show that a driver has successfully passed a security check.
Now, we are concerned that drivers may need a wallet like George Costanza of Seinfeld fame, just to carry all the ID cards they may need. That is, if they can even get them.
The Transportation Security Agency is currently developing the Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC), which will be required for access to all port and transportation facilities, for all modes.
It is expected that the TWIC will eventually cover 20 million people. To date, however, there has been no consideration yet given to including non-U.S. residents in the TWIC system.
Nor is there any provision for recognition of Canadian driver ID cards (e.g. CDRP or FAST).
Talk of a North American security perimeter seems to have all but died out. Remember, it was our politicians that were loathe to embrace the perimeter security concept, citing concerns (real or imagined) over a loss of Canadian sovereignty.
What might have been an opportunity to secure Canadian access to the U.S. market seems, has been squandered.
What we are now confronting looks ever more like “an iron curtain” across the Canada-U.S. border.
It would be tempting to feel that the U.S. may be going a little over the top on some of these measures. You might as well get over it.
We must all surely now understand why the U.S. has always been concerned about domestic security.
While there are surely significant cost implications for carriers and drivers – especially for those falling within one of the designated higher-risk categories – these developments are not viewed as being entirely negative by many in the industry.
One might look at the new measures, not only as understandable given the U.S. desire to protect the homeland from terrorists, but also as a form of economic regulation. It’s going to become a heck of a lot harder to start up a trucking business and begin running into the U.S. unless you are prepared to make the necessary investments in security.
Somehow or another, the increased costs of security will eventually be passed on.
More worrisome is that Canada is no longer seen primarily as a friend, ally and most important trading partner.
Rightly or wrongly, Canada is being viewed with growing suspicion as a safe haven and marshalling ground for foreign terrorists.
The perceived anti-American sentiment at the top levels of the Canadian government is not helping. Neither is the apparent indifference of the current government to the economic implications for Canada of tighter homeland security policies in the U.S. . Mexico, on the other hand, seems to be enjoying, and reaping the benefits of a more friendly relationship with the U.S. .
Even before September 11, CTA argued that we needed to address border efficiency and security concerns, or risk a flight of direct investment out of Canada and into the U.S. and Mexico.
If Canada does not receive its share of investment, in plants and factories, then there will be no need for trucks. It’s time that as a country, we came to that reality.
– David Bradley is president of the Ontario Trucking Association and chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.
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